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Edwin Arlington Robinson - Ballad by the Fire

Slowly I smoke and hug my knee, 
The while a witless masquerade 
Of things that only children see 
Floats in a mist of light and shade: 
They pass, a flimsy cavalcade, 
And with a weak, remindful glow, 
The falling embers break and fade, 
As one by one the phantoms go. 

Then, with a melancholy glee 
To think where once my fancy strayed, 
I muse on what the years may be 
Whose coming tales are all unsaid, 
Till tongs and shovel, snugly laid 
Within their shadowed niches, grow 

By grim degrees to pick and spade, 
As one by one the phantoms go. 

But then, what though the mystic Three 
Around me ply their merry trade? -- 
And Charon soon may carry me 
Across the gloomy Stygian glade? -- 

Be up, my soul! nor be afraid 
Of what some unborn year may show; 
But mind your human debts are paid, 
As one by one the phantoms go. 

ENVOY

Life is the game that must be played: 
This truth at least, good friend, we know; 
So live and laugh, nor be dismayed 
As one by one the phantoms go. 

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Ballad by the Fire - Comments and Information

Poet: Edwin Arlington Robinson
Poem: Ballad by the Fire
Poem of the Day: Jul 23 2012
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